The Peacebuilding Podcast : From Conflict To Common Ground

Ep 43: Thomas Hübl: Healing Collective Trauma

January 13, 2020
One of the things I love most about doing this podcast is I get to spend time with, and really "tune in" to some amazing people.

Thomas Hubl is one of them.

Thomas is a contemporary spiritual teacher – sometimes referred to as a modern mystic.

His teaching combines somatic awareness, advanced meditation and transformational practices that address both individual and collective trauma.

I was introduced to him through my friend and colleague Amy Fox and affiliation with Mobius Executive Leadership.  He was working with a group of us organizational consulting types bringing the wisdom traditions to the world of work.  I also participated in the online course he created with celebrated negotiation expert William Ury – Mediate and Mediate

Thomas’ presence is incredibly light, smart, and deep and always seems to elicit in me an inner smile. He’s never afraid to tackle the difficult stuff and does it by listening, as he says, with “eyes all over his body”.  It’s a whole body listening practice I have adopted from him.

In the short time I have known him, I have seen his visibility grow rapidly around the globe.

He is a master with:

  • Building community
  • Managing projection and his own authority in groups
  • Somatics
  • Epigenetics 
  • and the specifc topic of this podcast, Healing Collective Trauma
As my listeners know, I started this podcast because there is a “process crisis” in the world – we use too much win-lose, debate-based processes to deal with our differences, and the media just loves it. Win-lose processes are certainly better than use-of-force but, because they are win-lose, they can lead to use-of-force quickly -- as we can see from looking around the globe. They are not relational, they are patriarchal in origin and they dumb down us humans in terms of how incredibly capable we are of managing complexity and building common ground with each other given the right container and good facilitation.

I wanted to interview Thomas because of the large group processes he has designed -- for up to 1000 people at a time -- to heal collective trauma.

This kind of work truly excites me.

As Thomas says “we have all been born into a collectively traumatized field and collective trauma needs collective healing.”

While I have never personally experienced one of Thomas large group processes, I can tell how amazing they are because of how many large group process I have led and participated in.  He started this work about 15 years ago under the banner of what he calls the Pocket Project and has brought together thousands of Germans and Israelis to acknowledge, face and heal the cultural shadow left by the Holocaust. 

He has then gone on to do processes in other parts of the world addressing the various “scars” of humanity that exist everywhere.

The other day, I was talking to a very close friend who is now about 50, grew up in Germany and lives in the United States. I know her struggles well, her desire to break out and manifest what I call a culture-shifting entrepreneurial enterprise. Without knowing I was working on the post production of this episode with Thomas, she started sharing with me her heightened awareness that the only way she was going to move forward was to unfreeze the past – that there is an “absent”, “nowhere” feel to her and her entire generation of Germans, and how much she suspects now that WWII was a direct result of all the undigested trauma of WW1.  

I felt the same kind of absence in Beirut when I was there a few decades back, and a similar awareness in myself about how I have had to unfreeze and feel the sexual trauma from my past in order to heal it and stop it from recycling to the next generation.

To quote Thomas in this episode... 

"The past doesn’t just disappear. The past needs to be digested".
"Many of the conflicts we see in the world are actually wounds that break open again, that show up again in different forms” because they have not been processed or digested.

So Thomas' processes are about exactly that – digesting and processing those scars around the globe we humans have created so they do not need to recycle themselves. It’s like a chimney cleaning he says. The more you do it the cleaner it gets, the less reactivity people experience, the more they are able to come fully into the present no longer triggered by unseen ghosts in their beings.

This resonates with my gestalt training and specifically the "paradoxical theory of change" – that the only way to “change” is to integrate fully the “what is” -- to embrace the shadow and the alienated parts of the self or system.

And, Thomas recommends, to do this kind of work in community, with solid facilitation, and presence. 

Throughout the interview, we touched on patriarchy as a collective trauma, the thousands of years patriarchal structures have been in place, their connection to war, the woman’s holocaust in Europe where millions were burned at the stake for practicing witchcraft, the challenges for women to release our codependent conditioning and step fully into our leadership and power. “Yes”, Thomas agrees, “#metoo was a trauma eruption”. I am left with a desire to create a large group process with him to address it as I believe it is the core trauma of all the other "traumas of domination.

So please give a listen, share widely if you can, write a comment on our blog here and learn more about Thomas here

P.S. For great content on Women, Negotiation and Power,  join our list here or follow us on Facebook at for our latest updates.

P.P.S. Listen as Susan talks about the motivation behind starting this podcast.

Important References / Links
William Ury -
Amy Fox -
Mobius Executive Leadership -
Meditate and Mediate -

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